Fresh-baked Goodness from Just Down the Road
You may have seen them over the summer at the Questa Farmers Market– the young couple selling the delicious baked goods, Luke and Sophia. While many assume it’s Sophia that does the baking, it’s actually Luke who’s the master of the kitchen.
Luke Gulick came to Taos County from his native Glide, Oregon, five years ago looking for affordable land. He found it and he and Sophia have lived on a 3-acre plot on Cabresto Road for the last three years where they raise poultry and vegetables. “Mostly squash this year.”
The 32-year-old has been baking since he can remember, “My grandma taught me to bake when I was little,” he says. “I still use some of her recipes.” He’s an heir to the old ways, eyeballing many of his measurements, an increasingly rare skill. He’s also the sort of cook that loves to tell you how he did it, even though his explanations only hint at the complexity of his art. “It takes a lot of practice. A lot of it is feeling the dough… the way that you roll a loaf, you form the loaf before it even rises and before it’s baked, has a huge effect on how it’ll be when you cut into it.”
It’s time-consuming work. “I sanitize my kitchen in the morning with my coffee at about six… the last batch of the rolls, the pepperoni things, came out around midnight and I was packaging until about 2 in the morning.” Though 20 hours is a long shift for anyone, Luke explains “a lot of it is rising time.” He uses exclusively the eggs from his own chickens and has his own homemade proofer (a cabinet bakers use to accelerate and control how dough rises). “It’s steel, 2 feet by 2 feet by 5 feet tall, just full of racks. I have a little tiny space heater I put in the bottom of that… and a plug-in humidifier.”
Though he’s a lifelong baker, Luke had never done it professionally until last year. “I never really expected to be baking bread for a town. I was surprised that there wasn’t anyone already doing it.” Seeing the opportunity, he got to work. “I started with the market and found out everyone around here likes fresh bread,” he said with a smile. He hasn’t limited himself though. “[I do] pretty much everything, sweet breads, cookies, pies, all sorts of different bread, different styles. I do pastries, last week I was doing apple Danishes, because the apples are just perfect right now,” he said. He offered up a delicious chocolate chip cookie to sample. “Popular over here at the bar have been these pepperoni and cheese roll ups, seasoned on top with garlic, rosemary and such.”
By bar, he is referring to the Tewa Lounge and the Village Stop & Go, a popular landmark in downtown Questa, right at the light. With the farmer’s market closed for the season, Luke has moved to selling his oh-so-good goods at the Village Stop & Go on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm. He plans on beginning a second round of sales Friday and Saturday nights for the bar crowd, specializing in pepperoni rolls and other alcohol-absorbing treats. Oh, and his prices are low, often just $5 for a loaf of his white bread and less for small treats. Go see him! And for special orders, give Luke a call at (575) 999-1616 or email at email@example.com.